GPOBA and World Toilet Day

November 3, 2016|Feature Stories


Safe access, disposal, and sustainable management of human waste is a necessary asset for healthy and prosperous communities, and yet remains an often unspeakable and taboo subject in many lesser developed countries.  Poor sanitation lies at the root of many development challenges, including important public benefits in terms of health, education and the environment – as well as nutrition, economic growth, gender equality and personal dignity. To focus awareness on the urgency of providing access to improved sanitation services, the United Nations (UN) in 2013 declared November 19 as “World Toilet Day,” an official UN international day.

The World Bank reports that 2.4 billion people globally live without access to improved sanitation, with about 1 billion resorting to open defecation. While 68 percent of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation, only 30 percent of the Sub-Saharan Africa population and 47 percent of South Asia’s population have access to a toilet and proper waste management services. It is estimated that access to modern sanitation services can add 20 years of life to the average human life in those regions, and improved sanitation has been recognized by the readers of the British Medical Journal as the most important medical milestone of the past 200 years. On the economic development front, the World Health Organization has estimated that every $1 invested in sanitation will trigger a return of $5.50. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which came into effect on January 1, 2016, has as among its targets for 100 percent of the world’s population to have access to improved water and sanitation services by 2030.  There are multiple challenges facing this ambitious milestone in terms of financing, education, behavior change, and processing, but is necessary to make up for lost ground and time – as the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for the sanitation sector fell short of its target in 2015 – falling short of the proposed number of people with access by almost 700 million.

This is an ambitious target and brings-up a number of challenges to overcome to achieve this:

  1. There is a large gap between available public funding, and the investments required to achieve a 100 percent target in less than 15 years.
  2. Sanitation utilities and households looking to invest in sanitation lack access to finance to bridge this gap.
  3. Service providers are not always held accountable for providing quality service, and it is often difficult to measure results from up-front investments in sanitation.
  4. The poorest and most marginalized communities are often excluded from sewerage network expansions, or unable to provide funds to purchase improved sanitation facilities.

GPOBA has been piloting an innovative financial instrument, Output-Based Aid (OBA) for the last 13 years as an innovative financing tool to reach poor and unserved communities.  OBA ties the disbursement of public funding to the achievement of clearly specified and pre-agreed upon results that directly support access to improved basic services. These subsidies can also be packaged to support services along the “sanitation value chain,” from demand promotion to collection/access, transport, treatment, and disposal/re-use. 

There are currently three active projects in the portfolio with one pending signing. More information on each project can be found in the activity pages below:
Active projects (as of Nov. 2016)
Sri-Lanka: Colombo Wastewater
Ghana: Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation Project
Kenya: Extension of Water and Sanitation Services to 80,000 residents in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements
Scaling up Blended Financing of Water and Sanitation Investments in Kenya (see video also)
Closed projects
Senegal Output-Based Aid Sanitation Project
Morocco Improved Access to Water and Sanitation Services OBA Project (see video also)
Output-Based Aid in Honduras: An OBA Facility for the Water and Sanitation Sector (see video also)
Output-Based Aid and Sustainable Sanitation

 (Click on map below to enlarge)